It's no secret that the wellbeing of our industry has faced its share of difficulties as the after-effects of COVID were felt throughout the construction sector, and businesses found even the simplest of tasks to be challenging. With the increased building costs, climbing interest rates, supply of materials unable to keep up with demand followed by the uncertainty of what might come next all created hardships for our sector.

Taranaki is made up of over 1,500 construction companies employing around 6,287 workers, that’s over 5% of our region's total workforce. The importance of a strong construction sector within Taranaki is crucial for our long term growth and development.

At Location Homes, we are proud to have three members of our team come together with Derek Drinkwater and Annie Lawn from Superior Stainless to launch Tradies Tools Down, an initiative brought to fruition to address mental health and wellness in the construction sector.

Hear more about the passion behind Tradies Tools Down and why our team wanted to be part of a group with a goal to help change the way our industry deals with mental health.

About Tradies Tools Down

Tradies Tools Down is an initiative created to raise awareness of mental health issues in the construction sector and to honour the contributions made by the industry to the Taranaki community. Given the huge challenges our region endured during 2022, it was important to highlight entities such as Building Wellness Taranaki and to help break down the stigma around mental health and normalise the topic in daily conversations.

The first event was held on February 9th and all construction industry companies were encouraged to put their tools down between 3pm and 6pm and bring their employees to the TSB Stadium for a free event. Allowing people to come together and engage with others while having a drink and food and enjoy some live entertainment. Mental health and wellness advocate Mike King shared his experience and offered advice to support better wellbeing in our everyday lives. Building Wellness Taranaki also talked about the local services they offer to the community and encouraged businesses to sign up to their programme which offers mentorship services as well as training for a dedicated staff member to represent mental health and wellness within a business. Check out the video from the day thanks to Mark Lahood for putting it together.


Meet the Location Homes team behind Tradies Tools Down

Location Homes Team

From left to right: Laura Crombie, Klaus Ohlendorf, Kory Sweeney

Klaus Ohlendorf

I am fortunate enough to be part of an amazing group of people that have initiated the Tradies Tools Down concept. I have personally battled with mental health for the better portion of my life, so a concept that involves getting individuals together to help each other with these battles is something I really wanted to get behind. There are so many individual factors that contribute to one’s mental health, but if we are talking about stress in the construction sector, these stresses are relatively similar for most individuals. My aim is to get as many of these individuals together in the same space in a relatively relaxed environment so that they can face these together as a collective, and share similarities they are facing. I believe that being able to relate to another person and vice versa is a great tool to be able to make the first step to talking about these stresses with one another. 

Kicking off this year with our first ever Tradies Tools Down event was amazing, and received a wide array of positive feedback from many members in the industry. Being able to create an event like this, and create a platform where members of the construction industry can come together and discuss pressures and stresses, and have access to mechanisms to help with these is one of my biggest passions and is something that is very important to me. I look forward to being able to continue with Tradies Tools Down and am excited to see what we can accomplish this year.

Kory Sweeney

Blown away, overjoyed and humbled are just a few feelings I have to describe our first Tradies Tools Down event. The dedication and effort that Laura, Annie, Klaus and Derek put towards making this event happen is something that I'll forever be grateful for. The support from the community, and the turnout was overwhelming and to me, highlighted the need for more events in the future.

My desire to be a part of Tradies Tools Down stems from a deep need to spread mental health awareness in the construction industry but also to hopefully connect someone who is struggling to the help that they need. This need I have comes from a “pay it forward” feeling, having dealt with mental health issues and have been to some very dark places in my mind. If it wasn’t for the kindness and love of others who saw through the “mask” i put on each day, i would still be in that situation or possibly not here today. My learning from my own situation is that we have no idea what someone is going through when we talk to them, they could be perfectly fine or they could be having the worst day of their life. Treating someone with kindness and respect on any given day, could be the lifeline that someone needs to hold on or begin to seek help.

I’m looking forward to what the future holds for Tradies Tools Down and can’t wait to get back to work for the next event. Be kind and better days ahead! 

Laura Crombie

I recently joined the construction sector in 2022, and as an outsider coming into the industry I was able to observe the highs and lows firsthand. I consider myself fortunate to be a member of the Tradies Tools Down team, working with a group of passionate like minded colleagues that have a real love for the industry, their colleagues and mates within the sector. It became pretty obvious quite quickly that an event like this was needed and the support we received right from the start was super overwhelming. 

At Location Homes we have been lucky enough to know about the incredible work Building Wellness Taranaki does as our Managing Director Campbell Mattson is one of the founding members and currently Chairman of the board. His dedication to the organisation and his employees' mental wellness has had a significant impact on our company’s well-being especially when it comes to normalising conversations and making sure his staff are ok.

Tradies Tools Down was born after a conversation in the office at the end of 2022 to develop some kind of event that brought everyone together (competition aside). I was fortunate to be able to bring my previous experience working in events as well as marketing to the table.

We knew that we had to get the funding to help bring this event together especially as we were asking companies to put their tools down and still pay their staff, so having it free for all to attend was very important to us. With the help from the amazing team at Superior Stainless and the New Plymouth District Council, we were able to make that happen. We are also appreciative to companies as well as individuals who got on board to donate to the event, whether monetary or in the form of items that we were able to auction at the golf day hosted by Asahi Beer and Shining Peak.

About Building Wellness Taranaki

Building Wellness Taranaki was founded in 2021 as an industry-led nonprofit charitable trust to improve the culture of the construction sector to one that supports the mental wellbeing of  our people. Their strategy is centred on five essential initiatives: providing support and training, intervention, mentoring, raising awareness as well as leadership. Building Wellness Taranaki is an initiative that builds and strengthens our communities, across all construction-related worksites – residential and commercial building, civil, infrastructure, engineering and all related trades.

The Building Wellness Taranaki programme helps members of the construction industry gain the confidence and skills they need to enhance their own and others' wellbeing. This community-based strategy has an impact that extends beyond the workplace and into daily life, benefiting our wider communities. Providing onsite and offsite training to workers, leaders, and businesses, as well as walking with individuals and/or work sites to address personal and business-related difficulties and connect them with relevant support networks. The coordinator of the Trust provides free and confidential assistance.

What's next for Tradies Tools Down

First and foremost the goal behind tradies tools down was to help raise awareness around the incredible work that Building Wellness Taranaki do for our industry. Our goal is to encourage as many businesses to join the Building Wellness Taranaki programme via membership. Here small and larger businesses are able to utilise their services and have an onsite staff member trained to deal with mental health and wellness issues on the ground. 

Our goal for the future is to create some smaller events that help continue normalising conversations within the sector. Watch this space! 

If you would like to join up to Building Wellness Taranaki you can visit their website to learn more.